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Russians’ social sentiment dwindles but it’s no use worrying yet - psychologists

December 11, 2014, 16:19 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Artyom Geodakyan

MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. Russians’ morale remains more or less normal at the moment, although with the very first slightest omens of a looming crisis in sight it may have been down from the highs where it used to be just recently, analysts say, adding the situation may get still worse in the near future. Psychologists are advising one and all to socialize more, try to learn something new, to enjoy life and not indulge in reflections on the destiny of the human race.

Most social sentiment indices are declining gradually, the national public opinion studies center WCIOM has found. Their vision of the current status is slightly worse that it was several months ago — the quarterly index has fallen by four points. Forty one percent of the respondents said the state of affairs in their families was favorable, and 49% acknowledged that although life was getting harder, it was still tolerable. Seven percent of the polled described their position as disastrous.

Russians’ confidence in the future has waned notably: it is shared by 51% of the respondents against 58% in the third quarter of the year and 61% in the second quarter. According to WCIOM, 41% of the respondents make life plans for two to three months ahead, while 18% try to foresee what their lives may be like several years ahead (22% in the third quarter). Those who amid the current instability in the country prefer not to make any plans at all grew to 19% from 17%.

Another WCIOM poll indicated that the social optimism parameter shows the most negative trends. Its level has been down by 13 points over just one month. Two or three years ago Russians were far more optimistic about their future.

“Russians’ social sentiment index parameters are still within the norm. The socio-psychological mechanisms launched by the Crimean affair are still in action,” says Timofey Nestik, a senior research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Psychology. “This year all unfavorable changes have occurred against the backdrop of a feeling of collectivism. Pride for one’s country and patriotism set protective mechanisms in motion.”

“All this works up to a certain point,” Nestik said. “Besides, we have a previous experience of living through crises. We project the current developments on the past and keep saying to ourselves that it cannot be worse than before. Besides, Russians are generally not in the habit of long-term planning.”

No considerable fall in people’s social sentiment has occurred yet, but it will most probably follow in several months from now. The psychologist warns it will be most dangerous to yield to panic: prophecies are coming true, exchange rates are plummeting and banking crises are erupting one after another.

“When things are really bad, the best solution will be to set some long-term goal to be achieved. This enables one to take a more balanced outlook on life,” Nestik said. “It is likewise important to socialize with as many people as possible, and not meet the same handful of pessimistically minded types. The more diversified the contacts, the more accurate the information you get.”

Lastly, the expert is certain that in a situation like this, it is essential to take care of one’s own development and education and to master some new skills that may prove useful in the long run.

“Everyone should remember: despair is a sin,” says Polina Gaverdovskaya on the Gazeta.RU portal. “Always keep a standby option (Plan B) handy. Where will I be working, and in what capacity, if not here and at my current job? Where will I keep my money, if not there where I keep it now? Try to be more informed. Compare opinions,” says the specialist. “Once you have all crucial information, go ahead with Plan A. If it doesn’t work, opt for Plan B.”

“To put it in a nutshell, do your utmost to enjoy your own life,” the expert concluded. “And spend less time on reflections about the future of the nation. Otherwise you may suddenly discover you cannot carry on without a psychoanalyst.”

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